Second Half Surge Lifts Alabama Over Ole Miss in Oxford
No. 9 Alabama bounced back after falling last week, to defeat No. 11 Ole Miss 30-24 inside of Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium on Saturday.
"Really, really proud of our players in terms of the way they competed in the game, I think that's the big thing that we wanted to get our players to get back to," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "We took a step in the right direction. We had to overcome a lot of adversity in the game. We didn't get off to a great start, but the players just kept playing one play at a time and made the plays at the end of the game that we needed to make."
Lane Kiffin's squad fired early, as Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart started the game with a 20-yard completion and a 16-yard QB run. The Rebels continued to carve deep into Alabama territory.
Ole Miss, building momentum early, looked to complete a fourth down conversion at the Alabama 12-yard line, but Henry To'oTo'o leveled running back Zach Evans to stifle the Rebel's opening drive.
The Alabama offense could not find any rhythm in the first quarter, leading to Ole Miss striking first.
Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins pushed the ball into the end zone from one-yard out to cap off an 11-play, 68-yard touchdown drive. The Rebels added a 22-yard field goal on its next drive, making the score 10-0 with 12:07 left in the second quarter.
Alabama responded with a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. At the Ole Miss 19-yard line, Bryce Young connected with Jermaine Burton to finally put the Crimson Tide on the board.
The Rebels capitalized off of an Alabama fumble later in the quarter with another Judkins rushing touchdown to put the Rebels up 17-7.
After an Alabama punt, the Rebels turned the ball over with 2:23 left in the half, giving the ball back to the Crimson Tide at the Ole Miss 23-yard line. Alabama used the short field to its advantage and Young eventually found Cameron Latu in the end zone with eight seconds left to cut the deficit to three.
Alabama opened the second half with a Will Reichard 39-yard field goal to tie the game at 17.
Ole Miss responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a Dart-Jonathan Mingo connection to put the Rebels back in front 24-17.
Alabama recorded a touchdown drive of its own to combat that, as Young connected with Ja'Corey Brooks to knot the game back up at 24 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
Young finished the day going 21-of-33 for 209 yards and three touchdowns.
An Ole Miss three-and-out gave the Crimson Tide the ball right back at the Ole Miss 49-yard line. Jase McClellan powered the way on this drive with 35 yards on four rushing attempts.
"[McClellan] really ran hard in the game [and] played physical," said Saban. "He's played well for us all year, Jahmyr's just played really well too, so Jase stepped up tonight and took advantage of it."
McClellan finshed the day with 84 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
Three Alabama incompletions ultimately stopped the drive, but Reichard connected on a 27-yard field goal, to put the Crimson Tide in front for the first time. Alabama led 27-24 with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.
The Crimson Tide added more points on the board courtesy of another Reichard field goal, giving Alabama a 30-24 advantage with 2:23 left in the game.
The Alabama defense looked to hold strong and preserve the victory, but Ole Miss would not go down quietly. Judkins erupted for 49 yards on two rushing attempts on the next drive and the Rebels were in prime position at the Alabama 14-yard line.
After gaining nothing on two plays, Alabama's Byron Young came up with a big sack on third down and the Rebels would have to get 16 yards to keep the drive alive.
"Byron played great. Mississippi guy so I'm sure he was fired up for the game," said Saban. "He's played great for us all year, he's a good leader on the team, it means a lot to him and glad to see him doing well."
Brian Branch came up with a clutch pass break up in the end zone to secure the victory for the Crimson Tide.
With the win, Alabama improves to 8-2 and 5-2 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide returns home to face off against Austin Peay on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. CST.